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E Frontier Acquires Curious Labs

Curious Labs to help Shade 3D suite enter U.S. market By Dave Nagel
Curious Labs has been acquired by E Frontier. Curious Labs is the developer of Poser, a character animation tool for Macintosh and Windows systems. E Frontier is a Tokyo-based developer of a 3D suite called Shade that's currently sold only in Japan, though the company says international editions of its software will ship when the next version of Shade rolls out.

Curious Labs says management teams at both companies have approved the acquisition and that the two companies will continue to operate as separate entities, with E Frontier operating as the parent company of Curious Labs in the United States. Curious Labs will be run by Marc Keohane, the current CEO of Curious Labs.

Curious Labs, at press time, had not responded to a request for plans for their software in light of the merger. However, in a prepared joint statement, the companies said, "With the two business units in place, E Frontier will focus on the continued development of the Shade product line and in expanding the Asian market for Poser. Curious Labs will focus on the continued development of the Poser product line and bringing the E Frontier product Shade to market in the U.S. and European region."

"This merge of professional 3D tools will bring together one company focused on further development of Shade and Poser which will most certainly give significant advantages," said Hiroshi Sato of E Frontier in the prepared statement. "As we focus Shade for the U.S. and European markets and with the continued development on Poser with focus on increasing Poser's content variety for support for the Asian market, our work together will deliver what matters most to the 3D artist."

Curious Labs makes Poser, a 3D character animation tool, which is currently in version 5 for Mac OS X and Windows. Curious Labs was cofounded by some of the original developers of Poser from Fractal Design and MetaCreations. When MetaCreations killed off its software division to focus on Web technologies back in 2000, Poser went on the auction block (along with Painter, Carrara, Canoma, Bryce and a host of other titles). It was snatched up by the team that originally created the software and others involved with its development and marketing. Thus Curious Labs was born. Since that time, Curious Labs has released several versions of Poser for both Macintosh and Windows, including updates to the base Poser application, the introduction of the Poser Pro Pack and, most recently, the launch of Poser 5. The first version for Mac OS X was launched in August. The company has also worked to bring integration between Poser and various other 3D applications, including, most recently, E-on Software's Vue d'Esprit.

E Frontier makes (among other things) Shade, which is a line of 3D modeling, animation and rendering applications available in several different versions (iShade 6, My Shade 6, Shade 6 Advance, Shade 6 Spirit and Shade 6 Pro). All of these are currently sold only in Japan, but the product line will be extended into other markets, including the United States, with the release of the Shade 7 line. Shade is available for both Macintosh and Windows systems as well.

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Contact the author: Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of several World Wide User Groups, including Synthetik Studio Artist, Adobe Photoshop, Apple DVD Studio Pro, Mac OS, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion, Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; and executive producer of the Digital Media Net family of publications. You can reach him at

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